Sunday, November 19, 2006


I get the privilege of hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house this year. One would think this would happen every year as I have the biggest dining room table. And no, I don't cook. I know, your jaw just dropped. There is a reason, but it isn't the issue behind this post, so I won't elaborate.

I miss Thanksgiving. If you don't know what I mean, read this post. I also miss it because it is glossed over by the overglamourization and financial marketing blitzes that are associated with Christmas that start the day after Halloween. Which brings me to a tirade. The supposed "official" shopping day for Christmas is\was traditionally the day after Thanksgiving. You hear local retailers crying that sales are down every year. Well, duh. If you wouldn't start advertising Christmas in July maybe you would reach your projected holiday goals. Miss that day in Marketing 101, didjya?

We always go around the table and express what we were thankful for over the past year. I'm always thankful for my job. It is by far the best one I've had including owning my own joint. It allows me a lot more free time, some weekends off and time to pursue some cooking classes, guest chef appearances and consulting work. And a great benefits package. I'm always thankful for my family. My sisters and I feed off each other professionally as are careers are intertwined (I cook, one is a dietician, the other a pharmacist) and we always lend a listening ear for the other's bad (fill in the blank). My parents are awesome; the net doesn't have enough GB to hold their praise. Among other things, when owning an older home as I do, their knowledge of "how to fix it" is valuable. Dad can plumb or electrically wire anything. Mom is a wizard with staining woodwork, light plastering, paint and wallpaper. Both have green thumbs. They both grew up on farms in the late Great Depression era either here or in Germany and had to learn things to which most people have no clue. Dad as a former auto mechanic practiced his art in the days before fuel injection and computers when you actually had to drive and listen to a car to figure out what was wrong with it. While those days are gone, that knack comes in handy diagnosing what is wrong with my aging Monte Carlo. And if I "farmed" any of this out to have done, I'd never hear the end of the lectures. Better to keep the peace.

I found two great health care professionals this year who I would recommend to anyone and remembered a construction guy who does fabulous work instead of screwing up my house.

I'm always thankful for friends especially from the socialization aspect.

I don't know if I'm thankful, but I'm amazed at how the Chef Kevin personae has grown. Its getting to the point where I'm running into people (many that I have no clue to whom they are) who recognize me, remember me, heard of me, "oh, that was YOU?", etc. I guess its cool. But, what is weird is that I don't think I'm doing anything differently in that last year than blogging (even though I started out last year). I've always done PJ Star articles, taught cooking classes and some light catering. I've maybe done a bit more this year than in the past, but the recognition factor is far exponentially greater than the effort to obtain it.

Looking forward to 2007, I need to set some goals. Taking advantage of the previous paragraph, 2007 would be a good year to seriously start (have always tinkered with) my first cookbook. Maybe auction off the "first" signed copy to help with the self publication costs (if my mother didn't get the first, well, I'm out of the will...just kidding, but ya get the point).

Lose some weight. My weight has always yoyoed in the food business, but now I'm almost as heavy as I have ever been. I guess all the running around, stress, sweating like a pig in a kitchen 14 hours a day works as well as Tony Little exercise program.

Finish the landscaping in my backyard. Ok, I'll be realistic: finish what I've started.

One thing I have thought about for a few years (and now that it is down "on paper" with a "time stamp" (so to speak)) so if someone steals my idea, I can sue 'em is this: I know a lot of talented musicians in town. I think it would be awesome to put together a Peoria area jazz\blues 2007 Christmas CD. I can hear some of the songs in my head already. Kevin Hart playing a Latin jazz\reggae version of Winter Wonderland and Little Drummer Boy on vibes(with some "drummer assistance" from Jeff Magby or Dr. Bob), Dave Hoffman playing trumpet on Gloria (In Excelsis Deo), Joe Metzka doing a (thank you Bob Seger) strung out from the road, tired from touring, Ray Charles-esque version of Silent Night (which I've heard him do and brought tears to my eyes) and a blues version of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Now here is a stretch: If you saw this guy playing bass Friday night at the Rhythm Kitchen, you know Tim Brickner on bass guitar could do a whole bass lead playing "Up on the Housetop" and pull this off. It's a jolly sort of song and Tim could turn this into masterpiece of Holiday cheer (with a few well placed solos and dropping a few "gifts for Nell type" verses). Twist my friend Grace's arm to sing "O Holy Night", "No. 9 Champion" Mike Nellas and John Miller in a guitar duo playing a montage of Greensleeves (What Child is This), phase into The First Noel then God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. That is just made for a quiet, snowing night with hot chocolate by the fireplace. I wish I could "hear in my head" a trio of of local sax players Cassie Hart, Dave Parkinson and Larry Harms playing a song together, but nothing quite pops in my head. South Side Cindy & the Sliptones playing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Nobody comes to mind to cover one of my favorite songs, the Smashing Pumpkins version of Christmastime. I'd like to hear Peoria native Brianna Thomas contribute (because I think she'd sound fantastic with her bluesy vocal range) Away In A Manger. Maybe I could talk my childhood through High school friend John Metzger to come down from Chicago and belt out a tune. Now, this could bring up some trouble. Could a local area blogger and this person be one in the same?? And maybe some sort of contribution?? Lots of coincidences if it isn't. Anyway, its a thought. Might be more of a hassle trying to bring together than its worth. Would try to do this for some sort of fundraiser donating the proceeds. Who knows.

Well, that is a lot of rambling, not to mention html codes. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and don't eat too much turkey.

See you around the Thanksgiving table...


Sean Carter said...

It's always so nice to spend Thanksgiving with family members...and of course it is a family occasion....and ni9ce to know that you'll be hosting Thanksgiving all the best with that...ans hey also visit my Thanksgiving Blog sometime and find out all the cool info i've posted there.....have a great Thanksgiving!!!!

Anonymous said...

Kevin- I think the Christmas cd idea is great. I think we would love to do "i saw mommy kissing..." Please let us know if you get the project going.
Jim from the Sliptones